More Frequent Migraines During Peri-menopause: Study

Menopause and Migraines

Study Shows Increase In Attacks During Menopause Transition (1)

A first of it’s kind study conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati Headache and Facial Pain Program shows conclusive proof that there is a recordable increase in the number of migraine episodes in women undergoing peri-menopause.

Peri-menopause is a phase of transitioning menopause. It could begin several months to years before actual menopause and is characterized by the woman experiencing some or all of symptoms such as irregular periods, fatigue, hot flashes, memory lapses, dry vagina, loss of libido, thinning of bones, incontinence, mood swings and breast tenderness etc. (2) All this is caused primarily due to the drop in the levels of female reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.

It was seen that headache instances rose during both peri-menopause and menopause when compared to pre-menopause. Pre-menopause was characterized by regular periods. As per Vincent T. Martin, M.D who is a professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati, “Ours is the first study to demonstrate that the frequency of migraine attacks increases during the menopausal transition. The results of our study validate the belief by many women that their headaches worsen during the transition into menopause” (3)

Summary of the research study is as follows:

Particulars Numbers Comments
Total Women studied 3,603
Age range (women) 35 -65 years
Group classification
  1. High Frequency >10 episodes a month
  2. Low-Mod frequency < 10 attacks a month
Analysis classification
  1. 34% – premenopausal
  2. 35% – perimenopausal
  3. 30% – menopausal
  4. High Freq was 50-60% more common in perimenpausal and menopausal women

 

According to Richard B. Lipton, M.D., professor of Neurology and director of the Montefiore Headache Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “Given that migraines tend to worsen during menstruation, it may seem paradoxical that when periods become irregular during the peri-menopause or absent during menopause that headache become more frequent. We believe that both declining estrogen levels that occur at the time of menstruation as well as low estrogen levels that are encountered during the menopause are triggers of migraine in some women.” (3)

SOURCES

  1. Young Woman Suffering From Headache By Stock Images; FreeDigitalPhotos; Web August 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/young-woman-suffering-from-headache-photo-p171720
  2. Menopause Health Center – Perimenopause; Web MD; Web August 2014; http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/guide-perimenopause
  3. Women with Migraines Experience More Headaches During The Menopausal Transition; Science Daily News; Web August 2014; sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140624215851.htm

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Migraining Women Likely To Develop Dementia: Study

Dementia Risk For Migraineurs

 

Migraineurs With Aura Are 48% More Likely To Develop Dementia In Later Life (1)

As if the sustained pounding, debilitating pain, the flurry of traumatic symptoms and ineffective medicines were not enough for migraineurs, studies are now showing that persons who suffer migraines with visual and other aura are 48% more likely to develop dementia as they begin to age than their healthier counterparts! (2)

In part this could be explained by the presence of white matter lesions that the brains of migraineurs are often seemed to have when scanned using an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

We know that white matter of the brain consists of nerve fibres (axons) and are surrounded by fat called myelin (3). The main function of the white matter is to transmit signals from one region of the cerebrum to another and between the cerebrum and lower brain centres. Lesions in the white matter interfere with signal transmissions. Damage to this white matter is a common significant factor observed in all those suffering from dementia.

Earlier control tests and those conducted at the Changhua Christian Hospital, Taiwan has already shown that migraineurs are at an exponential risk of diabetes and of developing hypertension, depression and cardiovascular diseases.

However, other studies have shown that the mental status of women with a history of migraine was no different from other women’s, so more research is needed.

SOURCES

  1. Image Credits: Dementia Disease And A Loss Of Brain Function And Memories As Al by David Castillo Dominici: FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Web November 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/dementia-disease-and-a-loss-of-brain-function-and-memories-as-al-photo-p173821
  2. Migraine may be linked to dementia; IOL Lifestyle; Web November 2013; http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/migraine-may-be-linked-to-dementia-1.1608597#.UoowF9JmiSo
  3. White matter of the brain; MedlinePlus; Web November 2013; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002344.htm

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Sleep Quality Influences Migraine Frequency And Disability

Sleeping Woman - Migraine Blog

 

Sleep Quality Directly Effects How Often You Get Migraines (1)

Tests conducted by researchers at the University of Mississippi, U.S.A have shown a strong correlation between poor quality of sleep and the frequency of migraine episodes as well as the disabilities that go with the condition.

The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was employed in the study which tested 78 migraineurs and 208 non-migraineurs who formed the control group.

The PSQI is a tool in the form of a scoring but subjective questionnaire developed by the Sleep Medicine Institute of the University of Pittsburgh. It has questions within it’s 7 broad components on which a patient is scored, viz;

  • Subjective Sleep Quality,
  • Sleep Latency,
  • Sleep Duration,
  • Habitual Sleep Efficiency,
  • Sleep Disturbance,
  • Use of Sleep Medicines,
  • Daytime Dysfunction.

Todd Smitherman and his team found that sleep quality was significantly worse for those experiencing episodic migraines than for those in the control group. The migraining group scored an average PSQI of 8.90 as compared to 6.63 in the control group. A PSQI score more than 5 is considered significantly bad.

Factors such as depression, anxiety were adjusted for the regression analysis calculations but still it accounted for 5.3% and 5.8% of unique variance in headache frequency and disability, respectively, which the researchers say is a modest but non-trivial amount. Even when depression and anxiety factors after poor sleep quality were included in the calculations the affective symptoms did not significantly improve these analysis models beyond that of sleep quality alone which made sleep quality almost an independent and very relevant factor in assessing headache frequencies and related disabilities.

As per Smitherman, “As such, sleep quality should be assessed preferentially to other sleep disturbance variables when subjective self-report measures of insomnia are used. In light of the present findings, conclusions from systematic reviews, and practice guidelines, the most potent means of improving sleep quality and insomnia among migraineurs is likely a treatment package that incorporates stimulus control and/or sleep restriction in addition to basic sleep hygiene education and management of comorbid psychiatric symptoms.” (2)

SOURCES:

  1. Image Credits: Freedigitalphotos.net; Tired Woman by Graur Codrin; Web August 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10021635
  2. Sleep Quality A Key Contributor To Migraine Severity; MedWireNews.com (Springer Healthcare Limited); Web August 2013; http://www.medwirenews.com/44/104664/General_neurology/Sleep_quality_a_key_contributor_to_migraine_severity_.html
  •  Abstract of the research may be had at:

Sleep Disturbance and Affective Comorbidity Among Episodic Migraineurs; Wiley Online Library; Web August 2013; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/head.12168/abstract

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